As we come together to worship our God, Respectful Modest Dress is expected year-round. Dressing up for Mass is not out-of-date, however decent casual attire is acceptable by today’s standards, but exposed underwear, short shorts, and other scanty fashion and neckline statements are Totally Inappropriate for Mass and at other church-related functions (Religious Education classes, etc.).
Parents: Being the primary educators of your children in the ways of faith – first of all, be mindful of the example you yourselves are modeling for your children – then, be parents and please exercise your responsibility by monitoring the clothing choices of your children and youth for Mass, class and other church functions. If need be, challenge and prohibit inappropriate choices that do not meet basic Christian modesty principles.
Youth: Please demonstrate your growing maturity by recognizing the profound sacredness, goodness, and beauty of the human body and sexuality. But also recognize the incredible power of your sexual energy and the dangerous lustful temptations that can so easily result for yourself and others. Whether any of us fully understand it or not, our clothing choices DO matter SPIRITUALLY and say a lot about ourselves. We have to understand what one member of the Body of Christ does affect other members. We need respect for one another.
In our culture, ever since Madonna, Britney and others became entertainment icons, the fashion industry has capitalized increasingly on their popularity and has flooded the market with highly sensual, suggestive, revealing, tight and provocative attire. Just because such clothing is readily available, it does not make such attire appropriate Christian choices for anyone. We are living in a highly image-stimulated, sexually charged and rapidly-changing society which presents to us daily multiple options for dress, language and behavior about which we must make moral decisions and choices. Everything an individual may dare to wear is not okay, harmless, or good for themselves or others. Some things are evil, indecent, very distracting, tasteless or a source of temptation for others. Our Christian upbringing and values should give us the character, courage and commitment to recognize and name those things for what they are spiritually.
Christianity teaches us that the sacredness of the human body as a gift from God calls for thoughtful respect and privacy, not over-exposure. Blame Adam and Eve! Ever since their fall, nakedness has been a spiritual issue. We are not living in Paradise where sin and temptation do not exist and nothing can harm us and others; we are living in a world where temptations and sin are a reality.
“You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
By Fr. Jerome Paulson, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Arlington, MN